Landscape Analysis: Country typologies for "readiness" to accelerate action in nutrition

This systematic desk analysis of data available at the global level for the 36 high-burden countries* uses multiple statistical methods to define country typologies of "readiness" in order to understand where best to invest and how to invest in order to accelerate action.

The desk analysis of country readiness involves comprehensive analysis of secondary-data indicators in the 36 countries with a high burden of stunting*. It uses multiple statistical methods to define country typologies of readiness defined by “commitment” and “capacity”. In this analysis, “commitment” was assessed using the “nutrition governance” indicator which was formulated by WHO based on the elements that countries themselves identified as essential for developing and implementing nutrition policies and programmes. “Capacity”, on the other hand, was assessed using health care capacity as a proxy measure.

Although there is a reasonable body of work pulling together the experience accumulated on what needs to be done to improve nutrition outcomes, this programme area commonly receives very little development funding. Recognizing that much less is known about “how” to implement nutrition programmes at scale, several attempts have been made in past years to categorize readiness to act in nutrition using data collected through interviews and/or through analysis of documents available at the country level.

The aim of this desk analysis is to further develop the methodology to assess countries' readiness to act in nutrition in a more systematic and scientific manner, using readily available data at the international level to group countries into certain typologies according to "need" for action and "readiness" to act at scale.

The report of the Landscape Analysis desk review is being finalized. The typologies were presented at a High-Level Meeting in Brussels, November 2009, in a presentation on Mapping policies, programmes and country readiness to act.

Furthermore, as part of the Landscape Analysis global activities, three methodologies for assessing commitment to nutrition was published in SCN News 37 (2009). In addition to the nutrition governance score described above, the nutrition components of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and United Nations Development Assistance Framework documents (UNDAFs) were reviewed and classified in order to assess the commitment of the government and the UN agencies respectively.

The table below shows the nutrition priority level of PRSPs or UNDAFs and the strength of Nutrition Governance in the 36 high burden stunting countries according to their progress towards achieving MDG1. The analysis showed that commitment to nutrition as demonstrated through the PRSP and UNDAF documents was weak in relation to the high burden of undernutrition that these 36 countries face.

This lack of commitment can have dire consequences for human and economic development in these countries. This does not necessarily imply that government departments or UN agencies in these countries are not working to improve nutrition. However, unless such efforts are anchored in key strategy documents like PRSPs and UNDAFs, they may not be sufficiently sustained or scaled-up in order to accelerate the reduction of maternal and child undernutrition.

The multisectoral nature of nutrition requires constant attention and action from a wide range of actors. Basing nutrition action in these overall development frameworks contributes to ensuring accountability of government and its development partners.

Relationship between countries' commitment and progress towards achieving the MDG1 hunger and undernutrition target

country mdg nutrition target illustration

Source: "Assessing countries' commitment to accelerate nutrition action demonstrated in PRSPs, UNDAFs and through nutrition governance". Engesveen et al (2009) SCN NEWS 37

* Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Viet Nam, Yemen, Turkey, Zambia.

landscape analysis logo

Landscape Analysis more information:

Contact information:

Nutrition Policy and Scientific Advice Unit (NPU)
WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD)
Geneva, Switzerland
Fax: +41.22.791.4156
NHD website: